Association of Major Depressive Symptoms with Endorsement of COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation among US Adults

Roy H. Perlis, Katherine Ognyanova, Mauricio Santillana, Jennifer Lin, James Druckman, David Lazer, Jon Green, Matthew Simonson, Matthew A. Baum, John Della Volpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Importance: Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccination may contribute substantially to vaccine hesitancy and resistance. Objective: To determine if depressive symptoms are associated with greater likelihood of believing vaccine-related misinformation. Design, Setting, and Participants: This survey study analyzed responses from 2 waves of a 50-state nonprobability internet survey conducted between May and July 2021, in which depressive symptoms were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire 9-item (PHQ-9). Survey respondents were aged 18 and older. Population-reweighted multiple logistic regression was used to examine the association between moderate or greater depressive symptoms and endorsement of at least 1 item of vaccine misinformation, adjusted for sociodemographic features. The association between depressive symptoms in May and June, and new support for misinformation in the following wave was also examined. Exposures: Depressive symptoms. Main Outcomes and Measures: The main outcome was endorsing any of 4 common vaccine-related statements of misinformation. Results: Among 15464 survey respondents (9834 [63.6%] women and 5630 [36.4%] men; 722 Asian respondents [4.7%], 1494 Black respondents [9.7%], 1015 Hispanic respondents [6.6%], and 11863 White respondents [76.7%]; mean [SD] age, 47.9 [17.5] years), 4164 respondents (26.9%) identified moderate or greater depressive symptoms on the PHQ-9, and 2964 respondents (19.2%) endorsed at least 1 vaccine-related statement of misinformation. Presence of depression was associated with increased likelihood of endorsing misinformation (crude odds ratio [OR], 2.33; 95% CI, 2.09-2.61; adjusted OR, 2.15; 95% CI, 1.91-2.43). Respondents endorsing at least 1 misinformation item were significantly less likely to be vaccinated (crude OR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.36-0.45; adjusted OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.40-0.51) and more likely to report vaccine resistance (crude OR, 2.54; 95% CI, 2.21-2.91; adjusted OR, 2.68; 95% CI, 2.89-3.13). Among 2809 respondents who answered a subsequent survey in July, presence of depression in the first survey was associated with greater likelihood of endorsing more misinformation compared with the prior survey (crude OR, 1.98; 95% CI, 1.42-2.75; adjusted OR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.14-2.33). Conclusions and Relevance: This survey study found that individuals with moderate or greater depressive symptoms were more likely to endorse vaccine-related misinformation, cross-sectionally and at a subsequent survey wave. While this study design cannot address causation, the association between depression and spread and impact of misinformation merits further investigation..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2145697
JournalJAMA Network Open
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 21 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)

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